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A mating flight was the method by which dragons and fire lizards mated. The gold or green would be chased by the males. Usually, only bronzes could fly the golds, but any male could and would fly a green.
Dragon Mating Flights
Mating flights started when a gold or green was in heat, signaled by a sudden change in temperament. Greens typically required no further preparation beyond the onset of their cycle. However, Gold dragons would immediately begin hunting with the onset of heat. Weyrwomen were trained to keep their dragon from eating meat; instead, the gold was to blood their kills for a quick burst of energy. Meat was considered to slow a gold down. Once satisfied, the gold would launch herself into the air, followed by those males capable or willing to follow. Typically, gold flights only involved bronzes, as smaller males did not possess the stamina to keep up with the gold. Thus, brown and blue males typically mated with green dragons. Bronzes would begin blooding kills as soon as they sensed a gold dragon going into heat. Green mating flights were often shorter than golds, due to the smaller size of greens, though greens were noted to mate more often that golds.
Once in the air, the flight became a competition. The female dragon or lizard would soar over long distances, utilizing a variety of aerial maneuvers. Males would attempt to catch the female, with the winning male being able to mate with the female. Mating took place in midair, which could cause dangers if the pair were unaware of how close to the ground they fell. Pernese believed that higher and longer flights resulted in bigger clutches. Since green dragons were usually sterile, this was only a concern for gold dragons, but a Weyrwoman was taught that she must control her gold to keep her from overeating.
Mating flights play an important role in the Weyrs. Weyrleaders are chosen through mating flights; the Weyrleader is typically the rider of the bronze that flies the senior queen. Meanwhile, green flights are important for providing sexual relief among the male dragons, as male dragons drastically outnumber gold dragons, while green dragons make up around half of all dragons. During a mating flight, the involved riders become telepathically subsumed by their dragon's mating instincts, resulting in sexual contact between the riders of the mating pair. However, because mating flights take place over long distances, the dragon's projected emotions could influence non-riders as well. The mating instinct can also cause other females to enter heat, thus Weyr tradition states that all uninvolved queens are removed from the Weyr when a mating flight begins. This is meant to prevent the deadly fights that would otherwise take place between golds during mating flights.
Fire Lizard Mating Flights
Fire Lizards, being the genetic ancestors of dragons, also have mating flights, which are similar in nature to their larger cousins. Fire Lizard flights are significantly shorter in duration, due to the much smaller size. However, they can have the same emotion effects on humans, especially those people bonded to a Fire Lizard. Like gold dragons, gold fire lizards have been seen hunting prior to beginning a mating flight.
Unlike dragons, both green and gold fire lizards are fertile. However, green fire lizard clutches often do not survive as green fire lizards tend to lay clutches in unsafe places. In addition, green clutches tend to have smaller colors of lizards dominate.
For some time in the First Pass, all the dragons and their riders lived at Fort Weyr. The dragonriders learned that one queen dragon in heat could send any other queens into heat, and the results could be disastrous — the queens would fight each other for the bronzes. This was one of the reasons Sean Connell decided to start up several new weyrs.
In the Ninth Pass, Kylara allowed her queen Prideth to go in heat when Brekke's Wirenth had her first mating flight. The two queens fought, and both went between. Kylara lost her mind, and Brekke only survived because of her ability to hear all dragons.